My Field of Dreams
By Harry Kollatz Jr.
Some are dead, and some are living — but it's a deep bench.
Maynee Cayton and Connie Carroll
Bygones Vintage Clothing, 2916 W. Cary St., 353-1919; Halcyon Vintage Clothing, 117 N. Robinson St., 358-1311
These timeless entrepreneurial ladies have kept me in hats, tuxedos and reading glasses, and they improve my attitude when I see them.
His convivial Richmond in By-Gone Days is a treasure trove of pre-1860 stories and an invaluable first-person source; he's an amazing sound-bite provider for someone so long gone.
George S . (1819-1902) and Heustis (1868-1958) Cook
Father and son whose photographs captured the famous and obscure in portraiture and street scenes. Their collection at the Valentine is constantly revelatory.
Ed Slipek Jr.
Style Weekly's architectural critic and historian. For the Richmond Mercury in the early 1970s, he described the first Shockoe ballpark proposal. And he's a frequent bus rider, like me.
Theresa Pollak , 1899-2002
She started what became VCUArts and UR's art program. Richmond's latter 20th-century/early 21st-century cultural development isn't imaginable without her.
Best Local Ad Agency
Adam Ewing Photo
The Martin Agency
Based on the penetration of their work for GEICO — "15 minutes could save you 15 percent or more on car insurance," the gecko, the cavemen, the ads featuring a pile of money with eyes and a remake of '80s one-hit wonder Rockwell's "Somebody's Watching Me," we could go on and on — you'd have to give the Martin Agency its due. But wait, there's more! "Save money. Live better" for Wal-Mart, "What can Brown do for you?" and the Whiteboard Guy for UPS, those ubiquitous FreeCredit-Report.com ads — "We have a broad list of clients," says Dean Jarrett, Martin's director of corporate communications, in what may be the understatement of the year.
Best Use of Old Richmond Braves' Baseball Bats
Donate to Little Leagues
Admittedly, in our "reduce, reuse, recycle" times, your idea has some merit. But that said, the children of Richmond have already been betrayed by their hometown baseball team, abandoned for that shiny new monument to minor-league excess in Gwinnett County, Ga., and now you want them to use bats donated by the very turncoats who crushed their childhood optimism? Let the brats in Gwinnett County have 'em, we say.
2. A bonfire
Richmonder You'd Like to See a Movie Made About
We see where you're going with this one: Lord knows it's got plenty of drama built into the story — the successful campaign to become the nation's first elected African-American governor in the former cradle of the Confederacy would be enough to hang your movie on — but unless you end it with the swearing-in, things get kinda messy. The abortive presidential and Senate campaigns are bummers, and the whole mayor thing didn't seem to end on an up note. Maybe put the project in turnaround and wait to see what Wilder's next act turns out to be?
2. Edgar Allan Poe
3. Elliott Yamin
Best Move This Year by the General Assembly
The Restaurant Smoking Ban
The unthinkable happened earlier this year — a ban on smoking in bars and restaurants was passed in the Virginia capital, home to Philip Morris and its cigarette factory, the world's largest. There were a few quibbles from antismoking groups, but overall, nonsmokers across the state can breathe easier.
Best Regional Advocate (other than a politician)
"I like promoting the Richmond community and making it a better place to live," says First Market Bank chairman Jim Ukrop, while noting that much of the effort he exerts on behalf of his hometown is not in an official capacity. Not that he's short on advocacy conducted through official channels, whether serving on the executive committee of Venture Richmond or co-chairing the Virginia High-Speed Rail Commission (to name a couple of the organizations to which he devotes his time). As for the latter effort, Ukrop says, "There's never been any money for it before, but it's certainly a hot topic now."
2. (Tie) Bryan Bostic; Bobby Ukrop; Elliott Yamin
Worst Move This Year by the General Assembly
The Restaurant Smoking Ban
On the other hand, back when we were a flailing British colony, it was tobacco that saved us by making the enterprise profitable. Nearly 400 years later, this is how we repay our cash-crop savior? But take heart, nicotine lovers — you can still light up in private clubs, open-air outdoor areas attached to bars and restaurants, and establishments that choose to set up a separate ventilation system for the smoking section. (Admittedly, that last one seems like a
2. Not expanding unemployment benefits
3. Smoking ban not strict enough
Best Elected Official
Gov. Tim Kaine
Upon learning of his latest (and perhaps greatest?) election victory, Gov. Tim Kaine notes that given the economic times we live in, he's probably getting "a little credit for steering the ship in troubled waters." The necessary budget cuts have been difficult, Kaine says, but "we've been trying in strategic areas to move forward," expanding pre-K, reforming mental-health and foster care, and increasing support for rail systems, to name a few examples. That's all well and good, but we're thinking it's the harmonica playing that put him over the top. "The harmonica could've been a factor," the governor admits, "especially with people who haven't heard me play."
2. Richmond City Council President Kathy Graziano
3. U.S. Rep. Eric Cantor, R-7th
Best Local TV Personality
WWBT 12's Andrew Freide n
You like Mr. Freiden. You really like him. But is he as pleasant off the air as he is onscreen? "It's not an act," says Freiden, laughing, "but I look nicer on television." As for his win, NBC 12's morning meteorologist figures that being employed by the market's ratings leader might have had something to do with it. He'd also like to believe that you appreciate the work of the station's entire weather team. "I think that we as a whole at the station, when we're doing the weather, we try to make it clear, easy to use and informative."
2. WWBT 12's Gene Cox
3. WWBT 12's Sabrina Squire
Worst Betrayal of the Public Trust
Given that our former mayor had a hand in making the other top vote-getters in this category happen, perhaps it's not surprising that he finished in first. It's a far cry from 2004's reader survey, when Wilder won for Best Mayor-at-Large, but perhaps that's what happens when you were in charge of an administration that seemed more adept at grabbing the wrong kind of headlines than in simply getting things done.
2. Losing the Richmond Braves
3. Wilder's eviction of the School Board from City Hall
Best Hope for Pro Sports in Richmond
With the recent expiration of the $318 million Shockoe Center development, we may be closer to no hope when it comes to baseball. That said, according to a June 24 report in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Class AA Eastern League is still looking to move one of its teams to Richmond next season, and Opening Day Partners' $28 million plan to renovate the Diamond remains on the table. And what's this about Reynolds Packaging Group offering land in Manchester for a stadium? So maybe we've got another at-bat.
2. No hope
Best Local Radio Personality
Lite 98's Bill Bevins
He's been at Lite 98 for 15 years now, and it's a pretty safe bet that Bill Bevins has won at least one radio-related category in our annual reader's survey every one of those years. So, we asked Bevins, what is it that makes him so darn popular? "Nobody who really knows me can answer that question," Bevins says, laughing, before crediting the team at Lite 98 for his success and then adding, "Our listeners are really loyal."
2. Q94's Melissa Chase
3. WRVA's Doc Thompson
Best Local Sports Personality
ESPN Radio 950's "Big" Al Coleman
"There's no question that people like the national shows," says a grateful Al Coleman, ESPN 950's morning host, "but local shows are really the foundation of radio." Which isn't to say that Coleman doesn't touch on national topics (he most certainly does), but nationally syndicated shows aren't going to focus on regional sports the way Coleman does with some of his regular guests, like UR football great Ray Tate, whose "State of the State" segments offer his take on the college game.
2. Former WWBT 12 sportscaster Ben Hamlin
3. (Tie) University of Richmond football coach Mike London; WRIC TV8's Chip Tarkenton
Best Local Blog
Tobacco Avenue tarichmond.com
With a satirical take on Richmond inspired by humor site The Onion, Tobacco Avenue bills itself as "Richmond's most accurate source of misinformation." It's also one of the city's most reliable sources of laughter, whether they're writing about Virginia first lady Anne Holton's love of raunchy comedies like The Hangover or revealing that the Federal Reserve's Richmond branch has been stockpiling Girl Scout cookies. "I think it's something that doesn't bash Richmond but smartly pokes it in the ribs," says head writer Jeff Kelley, a former staffer at the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
2. thisyounghouse.com (now younghouselove.com)
Best Local Writer/Novelist/Poet
(Tie) David Baldacci; Patricia Cornwell
With new books released in April (Baldacci's First Family) and December (Cornwell's Scarpetta) of last year, VCU grad David Baldacci and former Richmonder Patricia Cornwell were the clear winners in this category, despite the fact that neither author has lived in town for years. Even Cornwell's most famous fictional creation, Dr. Kay Scarpetta, left Richmond after the events of 2000's The Last Precinct.
2. (Tie) Harry Kollatz Jr.; Edgar Allan Poe; Anne Thomas Soffe e
Best Print or Online Reporter
The Richmond Times-Dispatch's Michael Paul Williams
A columnist for Richmond's daily newspaper since 1992, Michael Paul Williams has been known to ruffle a few feathers, but what the folks occasionally excoriating him for one opinion or another in the T-D's letters pages and online at the T-D's Web site don't seem to understand is that this is his job. You may not always agree with him (we don't), but you've gotta read him (we do).
Best TV Reporter
(Tie) WTVR 6's Mark Holmberg; WWBT 12's Ashley Swan n
Since leaving the Richmond Times-Dispatch in 2007 for a new home in television news, Mark Holmberg has carved out his own niche at WTVR just as he did at the T-D. "People will say they can tell [a video] is mine because it's jerky or the wrong color, but I also hear they can tell it's mine because of the subject matter and the pacing," Holmberg says. Over at WWBT, Ashley Swann left the life of a general-assignment reporter several months ago to co-anchor NBC 12 News Today, meaning that she now gets up at 3 a.m. to go to work ("I am not a morning person," Swann admits). But she's still the reporter of record for the station's hugely popular "Restaurant Report" segments. "I'm not out to get anybody," says Swann, noting that in addition to pointing out restaurants with critical health violations, they also make sure to recognize eateries with perfect inspection records.
2. WTVR 6's Jon Burkett
3. (Tie) WWBT 12's Ryan Nobles; former WWBT 12 reporter Terrell Brow n
www.richmondmagazine.com's Online Best & Worst 2009
We set up these virtual cage matches, and you typed in your favorites.
Jason Mraz vs. Elliott Yamin
Far West End vs. Midlothian
Far West End
UR's Mike London vs. VCU's Anthony Grant
VCU's Anthony Grant*
Boulevard vs.Shockoe Baseball
Deviled Eggs vs. Ham Biscuits
GWAR vs. Lamb of God
Lamb of God
Doug vs. Dwight
Limeade vs. Sweet Tea
Patrica Cornwell vs. Edgar Allan Poe
Edgar Allan Poe
Movieland vs. the Byrd vs. Westhampton
*in late march, grant took a new coaching job at university of alabama.